Katrina. [and why it’s still personal]

Yesterday marked the 6th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

And while I try not to be overly sentimental of national tragedies and freak-of-nature storms, this one still feels different.

This one is still…personal. 

We were lucky to not have much damage to our home. I had friends on the coast whose houses were literally cleaned off their slates.
My family and I stayed with my Gran (grandma) in Jackson, MS through the worst parts of it.  We had a lot of wind and power outages — a few trees down, but we were okay.
Once things calmed down a bit, we went to Sam’s Club and bought massive amounts of ice, water, snacks and non-perishables to bring down to Picayune, where I grew up and where my mom and stepdad lived at the time. I was a sophomore in college at this point in Hattiesburg, with my own apartment that only just had a refrigerator full of spoiled food, thankfully.

We brought the goods to the gym of the local Junior High where the Red Cross had set up and where I went to P.E. as a pre-teen. {Mostly reading Musician’s Friend and what not.}
As soon as the ice was brought out, people rushed to fill their cups. The simple luxury of ice — a thing of normalcy — it broke my heart. Moms and dads laying on cots in the middle of the gym with their children running about — we had it good. We still had a home. We still had our walls.

And it. was. HOT.

We had yet to learn of the atrocities happening in New Orleans. The lack of basic human need. The little-to-no response. People dying in their attics. Bodies left to rot in the middle of the street.

Injustices are still being dealt with. It wasn’t too long ago that a few cops were arrested for shooting into a crowd of people and killing a man. And that’s just one instance.

Watching the HBO series, “Treme” — I got caught up in it once again. The dismantling of New Orleans’ rich culture. Its food, music and people were scattered, but not gone. No doubt, watching Treme brought me to tears several times. The realness of the pain made its way into my bones.

And to be honest — it was a big part of my deciding to open a southern-fare food cart. It hit me deep in my belly that I owed this to my people. After all, it IS what we’re known for. Our food and our story. I want to share with people the things that make us so resilient. The way food and music and friends connect us deeply to a place.

Ain’t no storm gonna take that way. Because when the water resides, the smoke will rise from the pots and pans and we’ll remember that cooking and eating this food gives us a sense of normalcy and belonging.

And ya know, I think we’ll be just fine as long as we have red beans and rice on Mondays…

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